Saturday, August 30, 2008

Kids Get Their Games On, Too

ALD has done a great job getting our teen videogame programs up and running--so great that each branch will have its own console in order to make it easier to schedule & provide these programs.

But elementary school kids love videogames, too, and I've been finding myself thinking about them a lot lately. For one thing, my own girls, in 5th grade and 2nd grade, are total gamers: they've got the Wii and Nintendo DSs, plus they love spending time online with their Webkinz and UB Funkeys.

I'm conscious of wanting to keep Get Your Game On! on a cool, teens-only groove, but I also know there's tons of younger gamers among our patrons. So what would library gaming programs for this age group look like? Some libraries have had DS programs where kids bring in their DSs and cartridges and they have a chance to connect and play wirelessly with each other, but that really presupposes a certain economic group. Unless we bought 25 DSs to send around for programs...

My mom just sent me a flier from our hometown library for a program called "Grandparents Got Game!" It was a once-a-week drop-in program in the afternoons where grandparents (and/or grandfriends) could play with their grandchildren. Each session includes board games, a Wii, a craft, and snacks. Kind of a neat idea!

Could we have kids come and sit in a computer lab and all log on to a free online world? I haven't done a ton of research, but I know that Disney's Toontown can be played in a limited version for free.

What do you guys think? If you know anyone in the under-12 bracket, what do you think would appeal to them?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards

Another awards announcement! The Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards were announced on the 17th. Their Children’s Literature (picture books through YA) category "honors books for younger readers in the tradition of The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia."

This year's winner is the complete Harry Potter series!

Nominations included:
Holly Black, Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale ; Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie ; Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale
Derek Landy, Skulduggery Pleasant
Nancy Springer, Dusssie
Kate Thompson, The New Policeman

What do you think? Do you think it was a good decision--that HP really is that good, despite all the hype? Or do you think another book or series on the list was better? Remember to take the criteria of the award under consideration (eg, "like the Hobbit or Narnia"). I have been meaning to read Holly Black's books for ages. Now I have some more incentive!

Homework--help meeeee!

I was just curious--with all the schools in session now--how's everybody doing helping kids with homework assignments? What are some of the big assignments popping up? What great resources are you using? Where are we lacking in assignment support?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Minders of Make-Believe

Whew! I just finished working my way through Minders of Make-Believe: Idealists, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of American Children's Literature, by the great Leonard Marcus.

He spotlights the earliest giants in the children's book world--the first children's librarians, book reviewers, publishers, authors, illustrators, and editors--and traces the development of the industry over a couple hundred years.

It's full of lots of fun behind-the-scenes peeks (when one condescending bigwig called Jean Karl a "juvenile editor," she called him a "senile editor" back and said, "good children's books are never juvenile."). And it has tons of interesting backstories (including how the knowledge of Sendak's at-that-point prickly relationship with his editor Ursula Nordstrom informs Marcus' reading of Where The Wild Things Are.)

But the best part is how Marcus places children's book publishing in context with both economic and cultural changes. I kept thinking, "Oh, so that's why..." It's definitely a work of serious criticism, but I recommend it highly!

However, if you're looking for fun anecdotes you can work into your RA interviews, check out Anita Silvey's 100 Best Books For Children; if you want shorter, highly readable reflections on children's literature and culture written by a gifted essayist, try Alison Lurie's Don't Tell the Grown-Ups and Boys and Girls Forever.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hello It's me Jan

I'm Jan A-Z from Smoky. The reason people call me Jan A-Z is my last name beginnings with A and ends with Z. It is a hard name to pronounce. I love my job at Smoky. I do story times for Babies, two to six years and the different Elementary Schools in the area. I enjoy working with children of all ages. Right now I have been working on new flannel boards for our fall story times. If any one has any good web sites for flannel boards let me know.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Is anyone else addicted to the Twilight series?

I was encouraged to share with all of you what I have been reading of late. A friend of mine told me that I should read the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer because she was really enjoying them. At first I was a little hesitant seeing as how the books are about a vampire and this is not typically what I would read. Also havingSince I had this conversation with this friend of mine I have now finished the first 3 books in the series and have really been enjoying them. Not only are the books well written, the characters seem very real and Stephenie Meyer truly has a way of making the series interesting. So fascinating in fact that I for one have been addicted to them!

I thought that by posting about the Twilight series we could generate a discussion about whether or not any of you have read them, what you thought of the series? and what to recommend to young adults coming into the library having read the entire series?

Tattoos and Kids Lit, A Natural Combination

Hey, this post is just for fun. I was doing some random professional blog reading and wound up on Contrariwise, a blog of literary tattoos!

Scroll through the Books section to find Le Petit Prince, Harriet the Spy, the Lorax, and a few others. Shel Silverstein is over in Poetry.

What children's literature reference would YOU wear on a tat?

FYI: I started off at Fuse #8, another one of my must-reads, written by Elizabeth Bird, an actual live children's librarian, now published on the School Library Journal site. She has LOTS of insider bits plus thoughtful commentary. And just check out her blogroll!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I'm Jane Crawford and I work as a PSS2 at SG. I want to become more familiar and confident with the Children's Collection as a whole in order to do better RA in this area. What's good in the tried and true classics and what's really good in the newly published titles? I'm looking forward to the exchange of ideas and info.

New Books!

This week we received tons of new children's books in from Baker & Taylor, which makes it a great time to explore the new book situation in your branch's children's area!

  • Where does your branch put new children's materials? Is there a new book shelf? A display? Do books go right into the regular collection?
  • How long do the NEW stickers stay on the books at your branch? Who's in charge of keeping an eye on the new children's materials and removing stickers? Talk to them and find out what their usual procedure is. How can you help them?
  • What do you like about how your branch handles the new book collection? What would you like to see done differently?
  • What titles are catching your eye right now? Tell us about one title currently in your new book collection.
  • Don't forget to check out Tales' Treehouse and look at the "New Books, Movies & Music" tab under Swoop the Owl. This is a great place to recommend to families.

Leave a comment with the answers to any or all of these questions!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's Lori from KO

Hi, I'm Lori N at Koelbel. I do Baby and Preschool storytimes - they're wicked fun! I can't wait to share ideas, sorry I'm challenged at blogging - yikes!

Hi from Michelle Shields

Hi, I'm Michelle Shields , PSS II from Smoky Hill. I am new to baby story time and am learning all the time. I am very excited to be the Bright Beginnings representative for Smoky Hill and have already signed up 14 of my 15 baby story time children and hope to expand to the other baby story time's we offer here at Smoky in the near future. I am enjoying the August break, but spending most of it preparing for is just around the corner!

An explanation of Bright Beginnings:

Bright Beginnings is information designed for newborns through toddlers. There are 3 different levels, prenatal-12 months; 12-24 months; and 24-36 months. Each packet (in a really nice color coded book bag) contains a booklet of activities and games to promote the childs growth and development; a parent handbook on critical health, nutrition, safety and development issues for young children; a guide for finding quality child care; a classical music CD for infants; a childrens board book; and a community resource guide. All the parent or guardian needs to do is fill out a Bright Beginnings informational sheet and have the program explained (usually around 15 minutes) The program is free and sponsored by the State of Colorado

Aug 18 08 There are other reps for Bright Beginnings at other branches and Lori Romero would know who they are.

Hi From Cheryl

I'm Cheryl and I work at Koelbel. I really enjoy doing storytimes and all the programs for children. It is fun to be creative with kids. The summer reading program was very good. I am grateful for the break between SRP and storytimes!

Facts on Fiction

Tool time!

I just came across this site earlier this year as I was working with a patron. It was a mom who wanted to know if there was a site for books that told parents what the content was (like Kids In Mind) does for movies).

Ta-dah! Facts on Fiction! What I appreciate about the site is that it is not "rating" the books as good or bad (which some of these sites do) but just providing the information and letting the parents make the call.

Another nice non-judgemental site is Common Sense Media, which provides parents with information about movies and TV, but also books, games, music, and web sites.

Anybody have another resource like this that you like to use?

Hi from Sheena

Hi, I am a PSS 2 at Smoky Hill. I enjoy working in children's but I would like to be more familiar with the workings of children's and also tools that are available.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hi from Vicki at Koelbel

Hi, I'm Vicki Wheeler and I'm a PSS 2 at Koelbel. I've been with the Arapahoe Library District for about 1 1/2 years and worked for the Pasco Library System in Florida for 2 years. I enjoy doing baby, toddler, and family storytimes. I know this probably sounds crazy, but I really enjoy the summer reading program, especially all the special programs we had. I hope that this blog will give us lots of information we can incorporate into our storytimes. Thanks!

Monday, August 11, 2008

To Prize or Not to Prize?

Do you guys know about CYS-Lib? It's an email listserv for people working with children in Colorado public libraries.

There's been a great conversation on it recently about whether or not libraries should hand out prizes (and if so, what kind, and how much should we spend) for kids who participate in summer reading programs.

This is a perennial discussion topic! There are those of us who feel that if we hand out prizes for reading then we aren't encouraging the right attitude--that reading should be its own reward.

But there are those of us who feel that while kids who are already readers will read regardless, kids who aren't "natural readers" or who struggle with reading really do respond to the challenge and reward of prizes for achievement.

There are others of us in the middle ground--okay with prizes, but looking to place them in a context that includes our "whole package" of programs, books, information, hangout spots, etc. and also looks to include other types of rewards. Some libraries make donations to charities for every hour or book kids read past their required reading, for instance.

What do you think about all this? Leave us a comment! Your Summer Reading Program Committee is listening!

If you'd like to sign up to receive the CYS-Lib emails, send an email to: Leave your subject line blank and in the message body, write the two-line message:
subscribe cys-lib

If you'd like to see what some of the discussion has been, let me know and I'll round them up to share.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Stuff I Saw

Well, my vacation is winding up and we are heading west once again. Here's a few library things I noticed this trip:

While staying in Mishicot, WI (pop. 1422 and apparently served by the Lester Public Library in nearby Two Rivers) I saw a flier for a weekly SRP program held in Mishicot Village Park--rain or shine, games, crafts and stories! I loved this idea--clearly it's an outreach thing to a small community without its own library branch, but wouldn't it be cool to take a story and a craft every week to Westlands Park? How many people make it to the playground every week who don't come to the library? If we did this, which park would you recommend we go to near your branch?

(PS: I also really liked their webpage, which included an events blog.)

I stopped in at the Roselle Public Library in suburban Chicago--my hometown library where I paged as a teenager) and admired their summer postcard wall. They told their kids to send the library postcards from wherever they went on vacation! The postcards came in from all over the world and were displayed on a huge bulletin board in the children's room.

(PS: I checked out their webpage too and found a "Blogger Bookclub" for kids. Those of you who hold book clubs, what do you think about this idea? Should we try it at ALD? As an extension of a regular kids' book club, or as a separate online program?)

We visited my college roommate who told me about a "travel kit" service her family used this year. After filling out a short form (Mary got a sample for me if you want to see it) with their kids' ages and interests, the family picked up a bag filled with books and videos to take on vacation, including a book about where they were going. Mary was really impressed that when her four-year-old twin boys stated that their interests were french fries and pie, the librarians included a story about pie and a book about how french fries are made in the kit! I don't know that this is a service that we could support at ALD (we've got a lot more patrons), but it made me think again about doing personalized booklists for patrons via email...maybe that's something we could handle. What do you think?

(PS: Plainfield has posted instructions for their patrons to create a catalog bookmarklet--you can check the library catalog for books while surfing Amazon.)

Last but not least, we're staying tonight at a Country Inn and Suites on I-80 (the really exciting part of our trip) and I noticed that the hotel has a "Read It & Return" lending library program! Sarah and I took a walk to go check it out. They've got a bookshelf with children's and adults' paperbacks (hotel stickers on the spines) and you can borrow a book for free, and return during your visit or later to another CI&S location. And every time you bring back a book to them, they make a donation to a literacy program! What if we asked the Friends to set aside some of the children's books they get as donations, and put them in small "library boxes" at various places around town? Panera, Starbucks, DMV, banks...? Kids could read some books while waiting for their folks...

Okay, I'm finally done with this humongous post. But I have an assignment for you! Check out your hometown's library website and see if they mention any programs or services that you think are cool. Leave a comment and let us know what they are!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Eisner Awards

The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were announced a couple of weeks ago at Comic Con in San Diego. I just checked up on them and was excited to find out that last year's "Works for Young Readers" category has been split in two--one for kids and one for teens. This is an exciting reflection of the continued growth in the youth comic books and graphic novel market!

This year's winners:

Best Publication for Kids: Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 and Mouse Guard: Winter 1152, by David Petersen (Archaia)

Best Publication for Teens: Laika, by Nick Abadzis (First Second)

ALD has Mouse Guard: Fall...Anybody read it yet? If you haven't, take a look and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Hi to storytimers! It will be interesting to see how our storytime offerings match up with the patron input we get from the storytime surveys that went out last month. We'll keep you posted.
We also had good feedback about the Baby Storytime class that was offered this summer. Thanks to Pam Grover, Melissa and Erin for sharing their expertise. The more we can offer for the babies, the better!
ST Questions: How have storytimes been going? Has it gotten easier to mention the literacy tips? What do you feel like you need next? Take care! Lori

Monday, August 4, 2008


I was attending the EBSCO training last week--and while I tried to follow what she was saying, what I was really interested in was how to make the kids' databases better! Anyway, after playing around with some searches in Searchasaurus, I was still disappointed in it as a kids' search tool and spoke to the trainer about it. She recommended that we remove some of the products that it was searching. We did--and it now seems much more age-appropriate. So, for those of you who stopped using it a while back because it didn't return anything you could use or for those of you who've never used it, give it a try and let me know what you think!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Little Brother

Cory Doctorow is a writer and blogger (Boing Boing, Craphound) and a big open-source guy. He is very articulate on copyright issues; he talks about how too much emphasis on copyright protection might lead to the suppression of information and less sharing of ideas and creativity.

Anyway, his latest book is a YA title, Little Brother, which is kind of like a little brother to Orwell’s 1984. Like all his books, Doctorow has published this title simultaneously in print and as a free download. He feels that the people who will download his books are not taking away in any way from the sales of the printed material—two different user groups. Libraries, for example, are going to be interested in the hard copy. And Doctorow’s got his eye out for libraries who might like a printed copy; he’s offering to help people who liked the free download and want to donate some money to him to instead buy hard copies for teachers and librarians.

Well, we do have the printed book in our collection; but all this made me wonder, should we promote the free download as well? Should we put a link on the teen page? Does that fit in with our mission to provide access to materials? Do our teens use Overdrive? Would they like to know about this? What do you think? Leave a comment!

(And does anyone know of this type of venture with a children’s book?)